A Business With Community, Style & Soul

You know I love businesses, business models and businesses with clearly defined values and vision.

And I really love businesses that add value to their community.

One business I really love to visit in Sydney is Deus Ex Machina (The God in the Machine)

I was talking to the very knowlegeable and helpful Faidon about business models, motorcycles, Reg Mombassa and how much I loved this place when it opened, mixing art, motorbikes and coffee cultures –  a heady mix at that time!

He mentioned an amazing place for me to visit in Newtown – a business that mixed coffee culture, good food and bikes – but that had a community vision around helping locals maintain and rebuild their bikes – so I sought it out – it was called “The Rising Sun”

If you check out the website, it tells the story of friends coming together to bring their businesses together, using crowdfunding, making a difference to the community, using a club business model – they really have it all going on and are experts at maneuvering in this form of business.

Down  a back lane in Newtown, it’s the sort of place only locals would know about.

Here’s my first impressions:

Then I met Brad.

He’s a highly skilled mechanic who is managing the workshop, freeing up one of the owners to build their family.

He was articulate, reflective, an amazing teacher who oozed patience with both machines…and people.

He knew the business model intimately patiently fielding my questions and gently correcting me any time I generalised or assumed.  Both he and the owners are determined to stay true to their community vision.

On the community side, I couldn’t think of a better person to facilitate this amazing place of learning and fellowship.  This guy knows machinery...and he knows people.

He told the story that he had  motorbike accident recently and put it out to the community that he needed some help in the workshop.  The people came and helped.

This community is alive and well.

You eat fantastic food, you have great coffee, the environment is amazing, there’s an amazing mezzanine floor upstairs – great for meetings and get togethers – it’s  a community hub.

…and through the interior, there are hat tips to the investors and founders, giving credit, where credit is due.  The wall of fame pictured below, features spanners with names of crowd funding individual contributors engraved upon them.  The people who made this happen – all get acknowledged.  Everybody is a part of the community.

Go and Check it out!

If you have an idea for your community, who could you partner with to create an inspirational hub like this?


Let me know what you think. email me.



Uncommon Service

The girls who wrote this are funny, relentless and drive their message of carefully thought-through service offerings that make trade-offs and concessions to traditional bean counting metrics that slashes costs of service delivery and increases profitability in unexpected ways.Uncommon Service


In fact, they often mention how, when such a company is purchased by another company and their accountants come in to streamline and optimise profits, that the opposite happens to every conventional wisdom they try to implement.

They talk about how in the quest for service excellence across all metrics, inevitably leads you to service mediocrity.

You are convinced, page by page, that the art to achieving excellence is to decide which areas of service you are willing to be bad at.

The trick is; thinking deeply enough to figure out which areas you will have the courage to be bad at.

“The truth is often buried deeper than where you intuition can reach.  Uncovering it starts with the willingness to stop treating your beliefs as facts.”

This book is remarkable…as are the two authors who both are driven by their unique inner grand purposes.

Francis Frey and Anne Morriss


Want to Scale up your Business?  email me.





What Drives Us…

Well, I’ve been here in Sydney alone since February, while my wife Rose and our son  Ted Te Rau Aroha, have returned to take care of my mother-in-law Norma in New Zealand.

I’ve had a lot of work projects to deal with and my loneliness has been so intense, that on reflection, I realise it’s been driving me, motivating me and it’s been rocket fuel both for and in my work.

Every day has been waking up to: “my family, not being with me.”

I was having a conversation the other day with a colleague about how our constraints can often hold our greatest breakthroughs. 

Certainly, I turned my constraint of loneliness into passion and creativity in my work.

My colleague asked me what my goals were twenty years ago…I immediately went back to my first week in New Zealand, in intensive care, praying over my newborn son in a humidicrib, while my wife was upstairs on morphine and recovering from surgery.

My goals and my prayers at that time, were the one and the same.

For my son’s heart to keep beating                                                                      and my wife to get through her surgery.

I couldn’t think much past that.

You see, my life was in this slowed down universe of me and my son’s crib, surrounded by doctors, nurses, technicians and life supporting machines, blur rushing past me in their own time, their own pace.

There even was a restructure going on in the hospital at the time and all the nurses had to reapply for their jobs, fear was in the air and the medical profession has no training in sales or CV writing…so I was rewriting nurse’s resumes and giving interview strategy coaching in the waiting room over my coffee…

This has all come back to me right now.

Just like a goods train, when it brakes suddenly, each of the carriages bumping into the one in front – boom boom boom!  All the years, all the times I raced to the hospital, making deals with God, all the times in hospital, when all we needed was to get past the next part of the process – the future would just take care of itself…

All of these times I now realise have made me who i am.  i am not a capital I anymore.

You see, I’m no longer important as I used to be. I’m part of something larger than me.  Something that matters more than me.  I now think about taking care of my son and my wife…even somehow after I die.

I still haven’t got anything in place…but I’m working on it.

While I write this, Kim Jong-un and President Trump are shaking the foundation of long term plans.

The enormous damage to our ocean’s environment from the ongoing Fukushima meltdown has taken fish off human’s menu…God knows what’s next.

I asked a wise and old Irish friend of mine, Jack Kelly once: “How on earth did you guys manage through two world wars and a terrible depression?  How did you put food on your table and keep a roof over your heads?”

He paused, then turned and looked a me directly and said:

“We looked after each other.  We took care of each other and we shared whatever we had.  We worked together and made ends meet”

You know, we all probably need to be doing that right now.  Taking care of each other.  Sharing what we have and working together to get us all through.

We die as individuals, but we live as part of a team, a tribe or a community.

My work with Navitas has been my work with my tribe.  I’m so grateful to be welcomed into this tribe. My role as a trainer has been a role heavy with the trust of taking care of my students.  I have taken that on seriously and given them everything it takes for them to have a safe place to learn about how to deal with the world of work.

Yet here I am again…my wife and son in hospital again…except we are in different countries, with different responsibilities.

My railway train has come to a stop.  The past is banging into me boom boom boom.

My commitment, actions and my responsibilities have to continue for us all to survive.

So, given that this is a blog that’s dedicated to motivation, here is a good example of a guy moving forward, with cross currents of primal and contractual motivations…using his word as his guiding principle, to uphold the values he holds dear in his work…and to also support his family so far away.

Like they say:

If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.

Watch this space.


So, You’d Like to Understand Disruption?

Clayton Christensen is an unlikely looking and sounding prophet.

A homey story teller, deeply religious, he is a very tall man, who shows small, under capitalized companies how to go up against and win against giants.

The first I’ve heard about Clayton was when he was in university during lectures, he would wonder at the insights that other students would share…and he would re-engineer their answers to find the questions they had been asking themselves to come up with their answers.  He created a method he called: “The Clayton Christensen custom method for thinking through a class of problems” 

Clayton is often referenced in the deep study I’m currently engaged with.

So I checked him out and discovered how his folksy story telling style, clothes his Rhode’s Scholar sharp intellect and Socratic disciplines.

This video below, has shaken the pillars of conventional business and accounting wisdom…which he equates to being another religion.

If you want to understand what’s behind most of the disruptive elements and processes in our current world, then listen to this video.

I promise that this man will get you thinking.


Want to know more?email me

Me & Students 3

Where we rate Globally in the Digital Competition…

Not that well, apparently…if you live in Australia.

However, if you are a Kiwi:

Digital Evolution index 2017

As part of a collaboration between the Fletcher School at Tufts University and Mastercard, this study formed a Harvard Business Review Article. Read here.

The article explains the four areas of positioning countries as being:

Stand Out countries are highly digitally advanced and exhibit high momentum. They are leaders in driving innovation, building on their existing advantages in efficient and effective ways. However, sustaining consistently high momentum over time is challenging, as innovation-led expansions are often lumpy phenomena. To stay ahead, these countries need to keep their innovation engines in top gear and generate new demand, failing which they risk stalling out.

Stall Out countries enjoy a high state of digital advancement while exhibiting slowing momentum. The five top scoring countries in the DEI 2017 ranking — Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, and Finland — are all in the Stall Out zone, reflecting the challenges of sustaining growth. Moving past these “digital plateaus” will require a conscious effort by these countries to reinvent themselves, to bet on a rising digital technology in which it has leadership, and to eliminate impediments to innovation. Stall Out countries may look to Stand Out countries for lessons in sustaining innovation-led growth. Countries in the Stall Out zone can put their maturity, scale, and network effects to use to reinvent themselves and grow.

Break Out countries are low-scoring in their current states of digitalization but are evolving rapidly. The high momentum of Break Out countries and their significant headroom for growth would make them highly attractive to investors. Often held back by relatively weak infrastructure and poor institutional quality, Break Out countries would do well to foster better institutions that can help nurture and sustain innovation. Break Out countries have the potential to become the Stand Out countries of the future, with China, Malaysia, Bolivia, Kenya, and Russia leading the pack.

Watch Out countries face significant challenges with their low state of digitalization and low momentum; in some cases, these countries are moving backward in their pace of digitalization. Some of these countries demonstrate remarkable creativity in the face of severe infrastructural gaps, institutional constraints, and low sophistication of consumer demand. The surest way for these countries to move the needle on momentum would be to improve internet access by closing the mobile internet gap — that is, the difference between the number of mobile phones and the number of mobile phones with internet access.


Trust you found this useful.


Steve Jobs – Impossible to connect the dots…

In Steve Jobs Stanford University Commencement speech, he talked about how during college, he dropped out and started taking classes that interested him.

One of those was caligraphy.

He fell in love with the scripts and the spacing.

He also didn’t know how he’d use this in his future.

He didn’t know that ten years later, he would use the knowledge he’d gained in that class, to create beautiful fonts and spacing into the Mac, which was later copied by Microsoft, so that all personal computers had this amazing choice.

You don’t see these things when you look from the now.

You only see them in retrospect.

That’s why in coaching, you try and get your client to set a goal…and then visualise them achieving the pleasurable end result, engaging the five senses as if it was already happening.

Then, you plan backwards.Begin with the end in mind

You look what happened just before you achieved your end result.  You write that down.

You work your way back through the past until you reach your now.

This is your plan.  Your strategy.

Doing it this way, allows you to recognise where the dots connect.

You do it from a place of having already achieved your goal.

Try it.  It works!



The Skin Horse.

This is an excerpt from one of the most apt and beautiful poems about finding your personal “Real” self.

The Velveteen Rabbit OR

by Margery Williams
Illustrations by William Nicholson


HERE was once a velveteen rabbit, and in the beginning he was really splendid. He was fat and bunchy, as a rabbit should be; his coat was spotted brown and white, he had real thread whiskers, and his ears were lined with pink sateen. On Christmas morning, when he sat wedged in the top of the Boy’s stocking, with a sprig of holly between his paws, the effect was charming.

There were other things in the stocking, nuts and oranges and a toy engine, and The Velvateen Rabbit 1chocolate almonds and a clockwork mouse, but the Rabbit was quite the best of all. For at least two hours the Boy loved him, and then Aunts and Uncles came to dinner, and there was a great rustling of tissue paper and unwrapping of parcels, and in the excitement of looking at all the new presents the Velveteen Rabbit was forgotten.

For a long time he lived in the toy cupboard or on the nursery floor, and no one thought very much about him. He was naturally shy, and being only made of velveteen, some of the more expensive toys quite snubbed him. The mechanical toys were very superior, and looked down upon every one else; they were full of modern ideas, and pretended they were real. The model boat, who had lived through two seasons and lost most of his paint, caught the tone from them and never missed an opportunity of referring to his rigging in technical terms. The Rabbit could not claim to be a model of anything, for he didn’t know that real rabbits existed; he thought they were all stuffed with sawdust like himself, and he understood that sawdust was quite out-of-date and should never be mentioned in modern circles. Even Timothy, the jointed wooden lion, who was made by the disabled soldiers, and should have had broader views, put on airs and pretended he was connected with Government. Between them all the poor little Rabbit was made to feel himself very insignificant and commonplace, and the only person who was kind to him at all was the Skin Horse.

The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that The Velvateen Rabbit 2his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

“I suppose you are real?” said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.

“The Boy’s Uncle made me Real,” he said. “That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”

The Rabbit sighed. He thought it would be a long time before this magic called Real happened to him. He longed to become Real, to know what it felt like; and yet the idea of growing shabby and losing his eyes and whiskers was rather sad. He wished that he could become it without these uncomfortable things happening to him.


Trust you enjoyed this.

…so what is “Real” for you?

Inspired Again!!

You know, I’ve been researching the Edutech space in Sydney for the last four months and as a trainer, its been scaring  the hell out of me. Totally disruptive, it threatens the way all trainers do their business.

Last night, I went to an event to hear Riley Batchelor, the CEO of EDUGROWTH, a edu-tech business talk about the future of education.

We were in a room full of entrepreneurs, Riley sat on a stool and started a conversation that the room soon took over and a rich discussion quickly took over from any semblance of a structured talk.

This appears to me to be the future of education.

The learners, teach themselves.

Lecturers become the learner, exploring the subject through the learner’s eyes.

I don’t know why, but this morning I’m absolutely inspired.  I leaped out of bed at 4.30 am, did my yoga and got to work…

I wrote this post about the event, created an exciting and productive to-do list for today and am encouraged to move forward in all of my projects.

…so what inspires you?

My wife Rose, when she heard I was in a room full of entrepreneurs last night said to me: “Well, you would have been right at home!”

She was right.  (She knows me soooo well!)

I do feel comfortable with the disrupters, the creators and the outliers.  These are one of my favorite tribes I get to be with.

So, what is your favorite tribe?  Who lights you up and inspires you?

That would be a good question for you to answer.

Here’s me and Riley after him speaking to his tribe:

Me & Riley